12.10.2011

My Week in Movies: December 10, '11

La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In)
Pedro Almodóvar, 2011
In a fashion not entirely dissimilar from that of this year's "Drive", this nearly perfect and truly "out there" film (only my second Almodóvar after being prematurely turned off by the ostensibly lesser "Live Flesh") is familiar in so many ways yet unlike anything you've ever seen. With the absolute precision and design sense of a lite Kubrick, the narrative feel of a stronger Argento, the pacing of Welles, liberated and darkly sexual performances evocative of Pasolini and the chops to stand amongst the greats of the genre it embraces as it languidly unravels, it derives from masters - steals from the best, if you will - to forge its distinct individuality. Charting an exponentially engrossing case of Stockholm and Reverse Stockholm with a deliciously sick twist or five, it is like "A Clockwork Orange" meets "Deep Red" meets "Touch of Evil" meets "The Decameron" meets Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"; it is "The Skin I Live In". Furthermore, while I can wish it did have the more overt deliberation of something like "The Shining" or "Magnolia", it does navigate its refreshingly scant exposition beautifully with assured reliance on film's truest assets - images! Strong, strong images! There, I believe I've over-excitedly covered a fraction of the reasons "The Skin I Live In" is great.

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lynne Ramsay, 2011
The relentless opening act of "We Need to Talk About Kevin" threatens to make the whole an insanely strong candidate amongst the very best films of the year. Not in some time have I seen such a lucid narrative flow that rapt me in its turmoil so viscerally. Aiding matters are a surprising undercurrent of biting black humor and Tilda Swinton's bleak performance, so hollowed-out and lost with a single expression you hardly need know the details of her character's unenviable forfeits to feel pained sympathies roiling up inside your guts. Nature and nurture are waging what feels like a war inherently unwinnable for either side - a war as silent as the most muffled scream. What so unfortunately and frustratingly compromises the picture as a whole are the following acts, in which the film becomes something like "The Omen" mixed with "Marley & Me". How many times do we need to see the titular son carry out essentially the same acts with essentially the same results, as if the male characters are records stuck stubbornly on repeat? And are the poorly acted evil glares and unrealistically sinister retorts necessary? Though the harsh beauty of the cinematography remains consistent, when the character of Kevin gains more of a voice to flesh out the established yet mysterious state of his mother's life the proceedings take a nosedive of contrivance and redundancy, never quite recovering.


Further first-time viewings:

Rouge (Red) - Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1994
I suppose reactions like this are either why one might love me or hate me as a critical mind. One could say, "Wow, that Tom guy is unpredictable and really sticks to his guns, whatever those guns may be," or, contrarily, "This hack doesn't understand a good film when he sees one, how can he not at least respect the greatness of one of the most hailed films of the '90s?" Well, my apologies... "Red" bored me stiff. It has clearly influenced a wave of subsequently influential directors such as Tom Tykwer and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (incidentally directors I don't particularly care for), and with its implied strokes of influence might well have become a fleeting highlight of my late youth had I seen it around the same time I saw Tykwer's "Run, Lola, Run" (which I now consider immature but once found eye-opening to a world of cinema I hadn't yet discovered). Never for a moment, however, did it inspire interest from yours truly to the point that I hardly have anything further to say about it. It's not bad, per se, it's just there. It might be taken in to account that possibly intended implications were missed seeing as I for some reason mistook this for the first of the "Three Colors" trilogy and have not yet seen "Blue" or "White".


Total: 3

4 comments:

  1. Why did you leave, Mod? Why? To break me down and see me cry?

    Anyway, glad you loved the Almodovar. My favorite of his from what I've seen, which is only a handful. Delightfully demented film.

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  2. I need to catch up. Tie Me Up, Woman on the Verge, Broken Embraces, Bad Education, All About My Mother, Volver... and, according to one fan, a second chance with Live Flesh.

    I miss you, Brightside, Rdog, Colonel Kurz, Blevo and others, but it was becoming blatantly clear after well over a year posting there that I was not respected by the majority of the community to the point that my more substantial posts were being skipped over completely. I learned a lot from my involvement with the community and am extremely grateful for that much and wish I could justify that learning's continuation... but I had been trying to give back to the community as well (and I'm not referring to my own threads here, more my posts in Recently Seen than anything) and it finally reached a point where it just quietly clicked that I was done putting myself out there in that company.

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  3. Volver is the only other I've seen that I really liked. All About My Mother and Bad Education were fine, but didn't connect for various reasons, and I kind of think Broken Embraces is just a bad film. Haven't seen any of his earlier work.

    And I'm truly sorry to hear that, and I think you're being too harsh on the people there, and their opinion of you. I know I'm not alone with this opinion when I say that you're one of the best members on that board - for quality of posts, idiosyncratic taste (which I appreciate SO much), and general humor. I'd hate to see you leave because you may think people don't want you around; from my experience, that's simply not true.

    And I really wanted to finally do a thread with you, thought that was way overdue. Maybe I can convince you to come back for that? Either way, I'll keep reading your blog and, worst case scenario, I'll comment here more often.

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  4. Maybe you can.

    *dramatic pause*

    Maybe... you... can...


    Whatever the case, I'd like to remain better connected with some good Corrierino folks through Facebook (which I don't have you as a friend on, do you have a profile?)... I just need to be better about visiting individual pages since the Facebook newsfeed is such a catastrophe and I can rarely find posts from individuals I care about.

    ReplyDelete

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